Preparing For Easter

I was lucky to have seen a fleeting sunrise over Christchurch Road this morning, for within seconds it had disappeared and apart from a brief glimpse later at Mudeford we were not to see its effects again.

Just a little later we drove to Milford on Sea where I collected dry cleaning from Whites, and on to Stewart’s Garden Centre outside Christchurch where Jackie bought Easter treats suitable for Jack’s dietary requirements for the forthcoming egg hunt.

Knitted and crocheted letter boxes were in evidence at Stanpit, where two women and children stopped to admire them as I boarded the car;

and at Mudeford, where I enjoyed an enthusiastic conversation with Alison and her friend whose name I didn’t catch. I last photographed this box on 9th September 2021, when I detailed its history, and when its metal collection dates notice had been in situ. We speculated as to why this should have been removed just a few days ago.

Crabbing was underway on the Mudeford quayside, and buoys bobbed on the sparkling choppy Solent.

Later this morning Ben Renouf visited to look at various electric lighting improvements that we need. He will prepare a quotation.

The children attending the Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday are too young to read clues, so they will be presented in photographs. At lunchtime I e-mailed Jackie’s pictures to Elizabeth who will print them because I am having problems with mine. They will not be posted today because parents might cheat.

This afternoon I converted from Classic Edit to Blocks:

The third of these is now categorised as Garden

This evening we all dined on cheese centred fish cakes, Jackie’s savoury rice, and her piquant cauliflower cheese, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Nero di Troija.

Stinging Choice

We began a dull, humid, day with a shopping trip to Lidl, followed by a forest drive.

By the time the choppy waves of the open sea splashing over the quayside reached the sheltered harbour at Mudeford they were but ripples upon the dirty grey sandy shore.

Silhouetted pines with gnarly roots separate the two expanses of water.

Canoes are stacked and boats moored on the more sheltered side.

A few visitors with young children lingered on the green, now the older offspring have returned to school.

A patient dog sat waiting quietly for its walk.

A yarn decoration with a seaside theme adorns the oldest red pillar box in the Bournemouth area, which dates from 1856, the first on our mainland, following a trial in Jersey, had been introduced in Carlisle in 1853. The penny post had only begun in 1840.

‘Anthony Trollope, now more famed as a novelist, was, in the 1850s working as a Surveyor’s Clerk for the Post Office. Part of his duties involved him travelling to Europe where it is probable that he saw road-side letter boxes in use in France and Belgium.

He proposed the introduction of such boxes to Britain and a trial on the Channel Islands was approved. Four cast-iron pillar boxes were installed on the island of Jersey and came into use on 23 November 1852. In 1853 the trial was extended to neighbouring Guernsey. None of the first boxes used on Jersey survive. It is possible that one still in use on Guernsey together with another in our collection, originally sited in Guernsey, date from the 1853 extension to the trial.’ (postal

At Avon Canada geese flocked on the river and on the fields, beside which I enjoyed an engaging conversation with a friendly young woman called Ali, who was conducting her own handwritten survey and confirmed my identification of the birds.

In London Lane a field is occupied by a pair of goats I have photographed before. One today was doing its utmost to reach stinging nettles outside the electrified fence. In the process it had chewed to the bare wire, which will be clear from the first picture when enlarged by accessing the gallery with a click. I suppose one sting is like any other to a goat.

Just outside Burley, a group of ponies were enjoying the slightly cooler weather with its lack of flies. One had gathered gorse and bracken headgear.

This evening we dined on pork steaks and chipolata sausages on a bed of leaks; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender runner beans and spinach, with which Jackie drank more of the Pinot Grigio and I drank more of the Dao.

Keeping Their Distance

In recent days goldfinches have joined the ranks of birds swooping on the feeders.

We think we may be harbouring an extra long tailed variety.

Mum’s care home is now in total lockdown. Several of us telephoned her in turn.

I believe that is now widespread. Jackie photographed this conversation through a  window at Barton on Sea. The son had left flowers at the door.

The cliff top grassed area was as crowded as any other spring Sunday afternoon, except that all the groups appeared to be keeping their distance from others.

Mudeford harbour was even more crowded, yet people picnicked

and played;

walked dogs;

and occupied benches in company

or in solitude.

Gulls simply winged it overhead or

over the shore at low tide,

while a pack of motor cyclists came along for the ride.

Turning inland,

on Braggers Lane

a jogger maintained his solitude.

Across the landscape in a roughly central position stands All Saints Church, Thorney Hill.

Pools still line Forest Road near Holmsley,

where ponies ponder,


and reflect.

Early this evening Jackie nipped out to photograph Elusive Eric the pheasant, who evaded her, so she settled for



the Cryptomeria Bed,

the Dragon Bed,

 daffodils and wood anemones.

This evening we dined on succulent duck breasts roasted with new potatoes; with crunchy cauliflower, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbado Garnacha Syrah, this time 2018 vintage.


“You Can’t Keep A Good Brit Down”


This morning we drove to New Milton to buy Jackie a bag to carry her overnight stay requirements for our trip to Bicester tomorrow. We then continued to Friars Cliff where we brunched in the Beach Hut Café.

Beach huts

There are two rows of beach huts there – one on the promenade above the beach level, and the other further down. These colourful buildings brighten such areas.

Dog walker at Friars CliffThis dog walker had probably made his way from Avon beach, curving away in the distance..

Silhouettes and shadows

Long shadows were evident even just before midday.

Clouds, sea, gull

A gull perched on a post catching what warmth there was from the sun piercing the clouds.

dog on beach

Dogs frolicked

Walkers and dog on beach

and their owners

Dog walkers on beach

crossed each other’s paths

Dog walkers on beach

on the sand.

Beach huts, women outside one

At one end of the lower level of beach huts

Women at beach hut

sat a couple of women, so well insulated from the chill air that Jackie cried “You can’t keep a good Brit down”, which they appreciated.

Gulls in shallows

On the way home .we diverted to Mudeford

Mudeford harbour

where gulls paddled in the shallows at low tide.

Boats, one overturned

Of the several boats

Beached boat, another overturned

tethered or grounded

Boats, one overturned

in the harbour one was overturned.

Rowing boat and yachts

Others fronted the moored yachts

Sky, Mudeford, boat

and the quayside buildings.

Twig on sand

Branches were spectacles on the sand.

Starlings on crab pots

On the sea front’,

Starlings, crab pots, buoys

having missed the boat that was stocking crabs on the van for Brixham,

Starling on crab pot


Starling on crab pot

young starlings,

Starlings on crab pots


Starling on crab pot

for possible treats;

they would have enjoyed the great slabs of Spanish omelette that Jackie conjured from the seemingly entire contents of a greengrocer’s stall bound by the massed clutches of multiple brooding hens. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the malbec.



Shades Are Recommended



Having spent much of the day composing and e-mailing a draft complaints letter to the dilatory and devious conveyancing solicitors firm that handled our recent remortgage to our mortgage broker, I was in need of a trip to Mudeford to watch the sun go down. The administrative exercise had involved trawling through documents, letters, e-mails, and such notes as I had made of phone calls or the absence of them; then collating them in a logical order in intelligible prose. Our mortgage adviser couldn’t access my attachment, so I had to cut and paste it and send it as the text of another e-mail.

The elements did not disappoint.

Sunset 1

Shortly before sunset, the orb was bright, but the clouds still retained their slate colours intermingled with streaks of blue.

Sunset 2

A rather large anchor is embedded in concrete on the foreshore. This provided a frame for the scene,

Sunset 4

as did trees

Sunset 3

and grasses.

Sunset 5

Gulls perched

Sunset 6

on moored boats


flew low over the water,

Mudeford Harbour

and gathered by the quayside.

Sunset 7

Smoky hues spiralled around blue skies, and gold-tinged clouds,

Sunset 8

gradually darkening as the sun descended.

Sunset 9

All at once

Sunset 12

an orange wash was

Sunset 13

brushed over the skyscape.

Sunset 14


As the sun sank the orange pigment

Sunset 15

drizzled down the horizon,

Sunset 16

its remnants

Sunset 17


streaking above

Sunset 19

silhouetted walkers

Sunset 18

Sunset 20

and their dogs.

For our dinner this evening, with which I drank Mendoza Argentina malbec 2016, Jackie produce Thai fishcakes on a bed of ratatouille served with breaded prawns, perfect roast potatoes, and crisp cauliflower.






Winter Quarters


Fibre optic broadband installation takes place in the exchange, and we cannot obtain a projected time for the work. It could be as late as midnight. James Peacock will therefore bring the router tomorrow morning. So the uploading struggles continue today.

Today’s fresh blooms in the rose garden are those of Crown Princess Margareta; and the honeysuckle on the entrance arch is under the reasonable impression that Spring has arrived.

Quay Hill

This afternoon we visited Dials on the bottom corner of Quay Street, Lymington, to buy a Christmas present;

then walked down to the quayside. A friendly young fisherman I have featured both in Lymington and in Mudeford, was steering his little boat into dock. I wonder if his


and this one are kinds of coracle.

My young friend explained that he spends the period from the winter months to Easter at Lymington, because this calmer harbour is much safer than the other, which is exposed to the open sea. Crab pots, ropes, and buoys are neatly piled on the quay.


There was no other activity on the water with its forest of masts,

except for that of mallards and gulls ignoring the signs forbidding diving and mooring.

 This evening we enjoyed a second helping of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s delicious food. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I chose Doom Bar.

Candid Camera

From mid-morning to mid-afternoon today was a bit of a struggle. I had taken on a project with my computer which had best be kept under wraps for the moment. It did my head in. For some reason each time I tried to send an e-mail with attachments my work disappeared from the screen and I was being informed there was no e-mail activity. The messages, complete with attachments were lodged in my outbox.
Eventually I telephoned my recipient who confirmed she had received the e-mail. We decided I should employ the classic IT Crowd device of turning the machine off and turning it on again. My Mac wouldn’t let me turn it off. This was because Mail was blocking that activity. Then I remembered Force Quit, so I forced Mail to be off and was then able to shut down my computer, wait a bit, and turn it on again. This whole business was repeated several times before, inexplicably, everything was back to normal and I was able to send my work off.
By this time I needed a draught of sea air. Jackie obligingly drove us to Mudeford. She sat in the car park with her puzzles and the waves in front of her, whilst I turned left and walked along Avon Beach for a while, then back to, and around, the quay.
Riptide and IOW
There is a strong riptide at this crabbing and yachting village, where the River Stour comes into contact with the English Channel. Riptide on sea wallThe collision sends shockwaves to thump against the sea wall and slide quickly back over the concrete and shingle.
Photographer and model on driftwood
Family on hillFamily in silhouetteAt first I walked in an Easterly direction. The sun was lowering in the Western sky, so that when I turned to face the way I had come, everything and everyone was backlit. Boy on beachThis made for some interesting silhouettes, but sometimes that large orb, dominating an almost clear sky, blinded even the camera.
Beach shell and shingleThere was a very clear view of the Isle of Wight and the needles. Shells, seaweed, and shingle blended beautiful pastel shades on the surface of the beach which was pretty densely populated on this most springlike Sunday.Group on beach It seemed that families and working people were taking advantage of the first splendid weekend day we have had for some time. Children, dogs, and beach balls were in evidence.Seagulls Crabbing being a favoured activity along this stretch of water, the seagulls showed great interest in groups that, like the mother and daughter hugging the sea wall, made their way along to the higher levels to dangle their lines into the water.
Outboard motorOcean Diver outboard
Pleasure and working craft were on the river and the sea.Rower Outboard motors, clear of the riptide current, sped into the harbour, and a rower made his way around the quayside.Motorboat Aquila The motorboat, Aquila, however, having come from the Island, struggled against the current.
Girl on roller skatesShadows, especially by the time I was wandering around the quay, were long, as shown by those cast by a little girl struggling along on roller skates, and her mother.
Quayside viewQuayside crab basketsQuayside reflectionsI was intrigued by another photographer who scoured the crab baskets area taking photographs very similar to those I had taken last September. When she turned up reflected in water on the quay, I couldn’t believe my luck. I showed her the result which pleased her, and she exclaimed: ‘Candid Camera’.  This is a classic TV show based on ordinary people being filmed in unusual situations. Only after the filming is completed are they told: ‘Smile. You’re on Candid Camera’.
We dined an hour or so after our return home. Some dishes, such as chilli con carne have enhanced flavours the second time around. We normally prepare enough for multiples of two, and either eat more the next day, or freeze it down for later consumption. Yesterday’s production was both enjoyed this evening and had a share added to the freezer. It was delicious. The rice was prepared in the same way as yesterday, but with the addition of glistening fried onions and yellow pepper. A side dish of green beans completed the first course, and bread pudding was to follow. I drank more of the Bergerac, while Jackie’s choice was Hoegaarden.

‘The Birds’

What began as a trip to Hordle to look at another house seen on a website turned into an enjoyable day out.  We had been promised white cloud all day, but the weather was much more pleasantly changeable than that.

Oak Tree Cottage in Woodcock Lane looks a serious contender.  As we were nearby we had another look at the house in Frys Lane in Everton, then set off north west to Matchams to see North Lodge again.  Frys Lane, which has been under offer for a long time and now back on the market, still appeals.  North Lodge is a very attractive house indeed, but somewhat isolated and subject to traffic noise.

Between these two houses we spent a most pleasant couple of hours in Mudeford, the beach huts of which we had seen from the sea on 30th August.  Jackie told me Matthew had loved crabbing when he was small.  

She said all anyone had to do was to drop a line into the water, and masses of crustaceans would be clinging to it when it was drawn up.  That is exactly what we watched.  So did the gulls who wheeled and swooped whenever they spotted the quivering claws.  Especially when a group knocked over their bucket and the catch sidled as fast as they could in order to throw themselves off the quayside like a troop of lemmings off a cliff face.

Sometimes the sky was filled with gulls; sometimes the sea and sky scape together contained both gulls and buoys.

The quayside contained much paraphernalia of more professional catching of crabs.  Pots were piled up in an orderly fashion.  Coiled ropes and folded nets were of various bright colours.  Starlings flocked everywhere.  Some camouflaged themselves on the lids of the crab pots, their iridescent speckled plumage blending well with the containers’ mesh and turquoise thread.

These vociferous and gregarious birds rivalled the gulls for perches on the roof tiles, as they performed their swan song before setting off for warmer climes.  A quieter congregation on the roof of the Haven House Inn listened attentively to a grandee seeming to prepare them for their journey.  Noticing what the building was, we were tempted inside for cod and chips each, a pint of Ringwood best for me, and a half of Kronenberg for Jackie.  Whilst we were enjoying our meals, two women we later learned were sisters, entered and debated whether they should eat inside or out.  Each option was preferred by a different sister.  Eventually the lover of the outdoors appeared to win the day, and out they went.  ‘I’ll give them five minutes and they’ll be back’, said Jackie.  She was nearly right.  One came inside, where we were snugly ensconced, within about three.  Well, it was brewing up for rain.

The slimmer woman sat beside us waiting for her meal.  Both lunches were brought to her table and she sent her sister’s bowl of cheesy chips outside.  When we finished and left,

the woman outside was absolutely surrounded by shimmering, silent, starlings. Starlings to the right of us; starlings to the left of us; starlings in front of us.  

They perched on the rails surrounding the dining area; they perched on the chairs; they perched on the paving stones.  Occasionally a courageous member of the flock alighted on the table.  

Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ was nothing to this invasion and raid on the poor woman’s meal.  She took it all in good part and occasionally offered a chip.  

She expressed the thought that she would go inside soon.

After our substantial lunch, we dined later than usual on cheese omelette, baked beans and toast.  Apparently there are baked beans that are not Heinz.  The tins bear the Branston logo, and they are obtainable in Lidl.  They are just as good.

Having taken far more pictures than appear in this post, with the young lady’s permission, I just had to go back inside and show them to the other sister.  She, naturally thought the situation hilarious, and told me her sibling was equally attractive to wasps.


Something dawned on us as we sat drinking our coffee this morning.  Doctors.  You see, I mostly keep away from them, but have recently had a few trips for minor stuff.  Maybe, its because, as Prof. Johnny Lyon-Maris said yesterday, ‘[I’ve] never been 71 before’.  However, this got Jackie and me reflecting on our respective mothers’ reluctance to call in the GP.  Yes, they used to visit in those heady early days.

Jackie, a second child, was born in 1948.  One of her contemporaries was the National Health Service.  I was born when the NHS was not even a twinkle in Beveridge’s eye.  Then, if you wanted a doctor, you had to pay for it.  No wonder parents of slender means thought twice about risking the rent money.

Soon after ten Jackie drove us to Sway to collect Sheila Knight and spend the day giving her a tour.  

We began with the Bisterne Scarecrow Festival Trail.  This involved a trip around Bisterne and its environs following a map plotting scarecrows created by local people.  Some were easier than others to spot.  We never did find two of them.

A great deal of thought and humour has gone into the creation of rustic works of art reflecting topical and cultural themes.  

The recent birth of Prince George was celebrated in at least three displays, notably ‘George and the Dragon’ which would have appealed to Flo, our family dragonologist.  

Nearby laze the tortoise and the hair (sic).  

The wit of ‘Scarecrow Ashes’ appealed to me. The scarecrow is a cricketer, fronted by a dustbin containing wellies beside which is a small shovel of ashes, suggesting other scarecrows have been incinerated. ‘The crow’s nest’ puts one in mind of a bird cocking a snoop at those meant to scare it off.

Sheila’s favourite was ‘The Gruffalo’.

The performance of ‘Scarenam Scy’ would no doubt rival that of Jessica and Imogen in their new kitchen on June 16th.

A maid with a tray of mugs stood outside a house we are interested in, advertising tea in the Village Hall which abuts the house, and which will be the beneficiary of donations received by the artists.

These images all bear titles in the galleries.

After exhausting this splendid display we travelled to Christchurch where we lunched in the excellent Old Mill cafe/restaurant.  Meals were plentiful and well cooked.  I ate a full English breakfast; Sheila had a toasted teacake; and Jackie chose two fried eggs on toast.  I was given a free pot of tea. This happened by default.  Ordering, as is normal, was done at the counter.  There was a queue.  I ordered the tea for me and cappuccinos for the ladies.  The young lady serving asked whether chocolate was required to top the coffees.  I said I didn’t know, but I would go and ask while she made the tea.  I returned very quickly.  The tea lay on the counter, alongside the coffees, which I placed on the tray provided.  As I reached for the tea, she said it was for the man on my left, that is next in the queue.  ‘Did you order tea?’ she asked.  I confirmed I had, so she pushed the one on the counter towards the other man and said she’d make me one afterwards.  He said I should have his, which I did.  I offered more money, as I had already paid for the coffee and meals.  She waved me away, indicating she wouldn’t bother with it.  The other chap then joked: ‘Oh, that one’s mine then’.  As I turned away the young woman pushed a yellow plastic duck towards me, saying: ‘You’ve forgotten your table number’.  The duck was emblazoned with the number 17.

After this we took a trip on a ferryboat that took us on a figure of eight route to Mudeford and Tuckton.  A very friendly pair of boatmen

informed us that the ‘sheds’ or beach huts at the picturesque Mudeford quay now sell for £240,000 each.  And that is without utilities, running water, or lavatories.

The peace and calm of this nautical journey was disturbed by the excitement caused by the exhibition laid on by the Red Arrows who were performing at the Bournemouth Air Display.  The passengers regarded this as a bonus.

While Jackie went off to move the car, Sheila and I visited Christchurch’s historic priory church.  Before returning to Sway we showed our friend the outside of Highcliffe Castle.

We dined with Sheila at the Sway Manor Hotel.  The food was excellent.  Sheila and I enjoyed a creamy vegetable soup while Jackie’s starter was a prawn cocktail; Jackie and I tucked into tender, non-fatty, pork belly, while Sheila praised her large slow-roasted duck leg.  That was enough for Sheila and me, but Jackie ate a wonderful slice of lemon meringue pie.  I drank a glass of red Chilean wine.

After Jackie drove us home I set about the mammoth task of uploading all these pictures.